John Coltrane would have been 90 years old today. Whereas there have been many great Jazz Saxophone players, to my ears Coltrane is one of the top 5 (the others being Coleman Hawkins, Ben Webster, Lester Young and Hank Mobley.)
His playing was so uniquely his that it is difficult to mistake his muscular “sheets of sound” for anyone else’s. To describe his music making (up to 1965) as outstanding would be pretentious, for I am not qualified to judge such a man. Better to say that I enjoy all of his music on Savoy Records, Prestige Records, Atlantic Records, his one outing on Blue Note Records and his work on Impulse Records before 1965. (He loses me after that, when he gets into his out-and-out atonal stuff.)
Born on September 23, 1926, Coltrane died on July 17, 1967, aged only 40, leaving us a gift that continues to thrill and satisfy. For those not familiar with his work, take a listen to him playing with Miles Davis on Kind of Blue (Columbia, 1959) and his only recording for Blue Note (Blue Train.) Now spin My Favourite Things and hear how Coltrane turned the great piece from The Sound of Music into a great Jazz performance. McCoy Tyner’s piano playing is equally outstanding. (If I had to choose only one Coltrane performance to take with me on my journey to Mars, this would be it.) Once you have developed a good ear for Coltrane, move on to a A Love Supreme on Impulse Records.
Any one of Coltrane’s LPs prior to 1965 will satisfy most Jazz sax lovers. As always, listening to a well recorded and transferred performance of Jazz on vinyl LP adds pleasure to the music. For those with turntables, check out Music Matters Jazz re-issue of Blue Train. Listen to this and compare it to the numerous reissues of this great record. Let me know what you think.
Thank you Mr. Coltrane.